It has been a long while between posts and for anyone who has visited hoping to read some new material on this blog, my sincere apologies. I am still taking photographs and have recently meandered into the wonderful world of home developing my film as well as planning and starting to collect equipment to make my own darkroom. Perhaps more entries will be about these and more later, but for now I would like to talk about how Photography can sometimes really touch people, in unexpected and wonderful ways.
Let me explain; in the ‘RESPECT’ EXHIBITION (talked about in my last entry in February) I was a contributing photographer. Every contributing photographer donated money and a print to the exhibition, with the money going to Jeff (the wonderful chap whom the exhibition was a benefit for) and each contributing photographer got to choose another artists print in a random selection process (explained later). It was sort of like a giant print swap/charity event for a good cause. Anyhow, for the purpose of the print swap we all had a list of our preferences of prints and at a pre-opening function where all the contributers had gathered and the names of the participants were randomly pulled out of a hat. Once a name was picked out the photographer then got to choose their preferred print, a red dot popped beside it to say it was taken and so on.
Those whose names had not been picked out of the hat yet then had to cross those print(s) off their lists as they were claimed. It was an interesting (and slightly painful process) but all done in the good spirits of the sentiment behind the event.
Well, names kept getting called out and my listed choices were being scratched one by one, except for this one which I did have somewhere in my top twenty as I really liked the colours and compositions in the image, it was one I kept glancing across at, checking to see if it had been ‘claimed’ yet.
When my name finally got pulled out & I got to choose, and despite the majority (over 75%) of the prints being claimed, it was this print on my list of ‘possibles’ that was available and that I chose. As I mentioned, I had admired from a couple of meters away (& thus popped on my list), but not taken a really close look at until I chose it.
Perhaps to many people, it would be a very nice photo but maybe not much more; it is an image of these weathered old blue and red wooden seats at a sporting ground curving off into the distance (and mounted on really nice watercolour paper too I might add) – but when I went up to the print and read the title underneath, my breath literally caught in my throat and I had one of those ‘shiver down your spine’ moments.
The print was titled: “The Old Seats, Whitten Oval, Footscray” and it was by Photographer Carmel Riordan who lives and works in the Western Suburbs.
When I was a young lad, we used to visit my Grandmother and Grandfather (when he was alive) in their little house in Picket St, Footscray. We did this religiously every Saturday up until the time Nan Stephen died. Dad grew up in Footscray and my Grandfather had even played for the Bulldogs in the reserves for a while way back when. Needless to say, we were all big Bulldog supporters.
Dad would usually take us to the footy (at the Whitten Oval) at 3/4 time to watch the last quarter (and also because you got in for free at 3/4 time!) I have many fond memories of it, that was when the footy was only played on Saturday and the teams were all part of the VFL, not the AFL.
In summer Dad used to take me to watch the cricket there (but not a soften as the footy) and one day I got knocked out by a cricket ball that whacked me in the back of the head from some kids who were playing their own match in the area behind the seats.
So those were my memories of the Whitten Oval, but there’s one final poignant kicker. My grandfather LIVED for the Bulldogs and for the Footscray RSL. If he wasn’t at the RSL, he was at the footy watching his beloved Dogs play.
Anyway, one fine day when Pop was in his late 80′s he and an old mate were at the footy (once again, at the Whitten Oval) when the Dogs kicked a winning goal (not sure if this is entirely true but I like to think so) according to his friend, Pop was up on his feet cheering one minute and the next, his pal turned around and Pop was there flat on the ground, dead from a massive, quick, final stroke/heart attack/whatever. I think if Pop had to choose a certain way to leave this mortal coil, he may have chosen this way…(in other words, what a way to go – a good way, I think, for him)
I usually didn’t think about any of that all that much in my teen & later years, but sometime in my 30′s when I got around to watching the documentary Year of the Dogs I found myself suddenly weeping inexplicably halfway through it….go figure.
So I reckon I was meant to get that print, but it does make me wonder at how the universe works in mysterious ways at times.
I sincerely hope I didn’t bore any of you with my story, but I had to share…